Mallya pins hope on lawyer who defended Pinochet

Mallya pins hope on lawyer who defended Pinochet

Vijay Mallya

Chile's former dictator Augusto Pinochet relied on her when he had to defend himself before the UK House of Lords to evade extradition to Spain to stand trial for violation of human rights.

So did deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra when he had to resist moves to extradite him from the UK to his country, where he would have been tried for corruption.

And now India's very own “King of Good Times” is relying on her.

Yes, if fugitive tycoon Vijay Mallya is expecting the Westminster Magistrates' Court in London to decline New Delhi's plea for his extradition to India on Monday; he is pinning his hope on Clare Montgomery.

Montgomery, who was called to the Bar in 1980, has been defending Mallya ever since the Westminster Magistrates' Court in London in June 2017 started hearing on New Delhi's plea for extradition of the United Breweries Group chairman from the UK to India.

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot is likely to decide on December 10 if the flamboyant business tycoon, who would turn 63 on December 18, should be sent back to India to stand trial for his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines' default on loans worth nearly Rs 9,000 crore.

Montgomery, a Queen's Counsel since 1996, is well known in UK legal circles for her expertise in dealing with extradition cases. She represented Augusto Pinochet before the House of Lords in a 16-month-long legal battle from October 1998 to January 2000 when the upper House of UK Parliament was determining whether the former dictator of Chile should be extradited to Spain to stand trial for allegedly torturing Spanish citizens and killing a Spanish diplomat during his 17-year-rule in South American country.

Pinochet was also accused of executing over 3,000 political critics and torturing countless others in Chile. He was also criticised for the internment of over 80,000 people in his own country. He was arrested on an international warrant when he was on a visit to London in October 1998.

Though the UK House of Lords had decided in favour of extraditing Pinochet to Spain, the decision was overruled by British Home Secretary Jack Straw, who released the former general of Chilean Army on medical grounds in early 2000.

Montgomery also led the prosecution team representing the Swedish Judicial Authority seeking extradition of Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange in the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in 2012.

She co-authored the book “The Law of Extradition and Mutual Assistance”, which was published by Oxford University Press.

Defending Mallya before the Westminster Magistrates' Court during the past one-and-a-half-year, Montgomery argued that slowdown in global aviation industry had bogged down the Kingfisher Airlines and the business tycoon had made attempts to save it by investing more in it.

Her argument was aimed at dismissing the accusation that Mallya had fraudulent motives when he had secured the loans from the banks for Kingfisher Airlines.

She also questioned the condition of the jails in India and cited the Article 3 of the European Commission on Human Rights to argue that Mallya should not be extradited from the UK as such a move would put him in a “real risk” of being “subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. 

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